Brain Food - Optimist

"…..Antioxidants are chemicals that break down or neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals—chemicals produced as a byproduct of normal cellular metabolism. Under normal circumstances, there is a balance between the rate at which free radicals are produced and the rate at which they are eliminated by the action of antioxidants. Free radicals are destructive in that they cause oxidative damage to tissues, essentially causing tissues to rust like pieces of iron left outside in the weather. They damage proteins, fat and even our DNA. In fact, damage to our tissues by free radicals is thought to underlie the process of aging, a theory first described by biogerontologist Denham Harmon in his “free radical theory of aging” proposed in 1956. Indeed, Harmon laid the groundwork for the whole antioxidant industry when he demonstrated that free radicals are “quenched” by antioxidants.

…..Fortunately, human physiology has developed its own biochemistry to deal with the free radical fire. Far from being entirely dependent on exogenous food sources of antioxidants, our cells have their own innate ability to generate antioxidants upon demand. We now understand that specific signals received by our DNA can actually turn on the production of protective antioxidants and that this innate antioxidant system is far more powerful than any nutritional supplement claiming to be “the best antioxidant.” Whether it’s the juice of some exotic berry or an extract from a plant recently discovered in the jungle, antioxidant supplements are limited by “one-to-one chemistry.” The golden key to enhancing antioxidant protection lies in our DNA, and we now understand how to activate the switch.


It turns out that a variety of foods are powerful activators of the Nrf2 pathway. While not necessarily rich in antioxidants, they directly and dramatically amplify our innate ability to produce vast antioxidant protection by signaling our DNA. In this way, specific molecules from Nrf2 activating foods can trigger the production of thousands of antioxidant molecules, providing far better protection against the brain-damaging effects of free radicals compared to standard antioxidant supplements. Some of nature’s most powerful Nrf2 activators include broccoli, turmeric, green tea, coffee and the now- popular resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine.”

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